With the promise of parties, freedom and maybe a new city to explore too, you’re probably really excited about starting university. But only the most superhumanly confident of people won’t also be a bit nervous about making friends. Don’t worry, everyone will be feeling just the same as you, and this advice will help you break the ice:
1. Let people know you’re here
With all the coming and going in the days before term starts, it can be hard to tell who has actually moved in. A poster on your door or even just a post-it with your name on is an easy way to show your neighbours or flatmates that you’re here. Even better, keep your door open as an invitation for people to come in and say hi. Just by watching the world go by and giving the occasional smile you’ll create a friendly atmosphere and soon start to recognise your neighbours
2. Start before you go
If you’re the sort of person who likes to be organised, you can start making friends before you’ve even set off thanks to social media. Facebook is bound to have groups for your university, course and halls of residence, and if there isn’t one yet, set one up! A search on Twitter might also reveal some fellow freshers. You might not have loads in common with people you meet this way, but having someone to go to freshers’ events with will boost your confidence. Don’t forget your real world networks either. Is anyone from your school or college going to the same university as you? Make sure you have their number - you’ll both appreciate a familiar face to catch up with in the first couple of weeks. Older brothers, sisters or cousins who are already there are valuable sources for insider secrets too.
3. Make the effort with your flatmates
You’re going to be sharing space with your flatmates, so it’s important to get to know them – get this right and they’ll be your second family. Make everyone a massive pot of tea, or splash out on a couple of bottles of wine to break the ice. Having something to do will help avoid awkward silences, so think about bringing a board game, pack of cards or some of your favourite DVDs too. Don’t panic if your flatmates seem very different to your friends from home. A fitness fanatic, party animal or workaholic might not be your ideal neighbor, but as long as you look out for each other that’s okay. There will be plenty of chances to meet other people through your course and any societies you join.
4. Have a battle plan
It may sound weird, but you can take a lot of pressure out of meeting new people by having a couple of choice conversational gambits to hand. Come up with some general questions to get people talking, stuff like ‘what course are you doing?’, ‘where are you from?’ and ‘have you been to such-and-such bar/pub/cafe yet?’ Make sure you have some interesting answers up your sleeve as well. If in doubt, try talking about the one thing you almost certainly have in common - how nervous you are about making new friends! People will appreciate your honesty, and it’ll be a welcome break from the usual freshers’ talk.
5. Help people out
Making friends isn’t all about drinking competitions and nightclubs. A simple act of kindness can be a powerful way to connect with someone. See a confused fresher wandering in your corridor looking lost, struggling to work the washing machines or in need of a pen at a lecture? Offering a helping hand is a good opportunity to get talking, and you’ll be remembered for your kindness. And vice versa, checking if you’re waiting outside the right lecture theatre (even if you already know you are!) is a really easy way to start talking with someone from your course.
Look after yourself
Be brave and make the effort with as many people as possible, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you haven’t met your next best friend by the end of freshers’ week. And if it’s all getting a bit much don’t be afraid to take some time for yourself listening to music, watching a film or reading a book. Keep checking our blog for more hints and tips to help you really make the most of your time at university.